Workshops
The members of the Hillbillies From Mars have been leading workshops at music and dance festivals for many years. Here is a list of workshops they offer. In most cases, workshops can be structured either as single-session (1-2 hours) or as daily sessions over a week-long period.


French Country Dance

French dances are hypnotic, compelling, flirtatious, and quite accessible to contra and square dancers. Daniel, who studied at dance workshops in France, has been teaching french country dances in the Bay Area for over fifteen years. His repertoire includes the bourrée (Berry regional style), schottische, 5-step waltz, mazurka, polka, and circassian circle. A typical session includes an introduction to several of these dances, while the week-long workshop focuses on refining the bourrée steps and styling, incorporating them into a variety of traditional dance figures. Sheet music and dance notes are available to workshop participants.

Instant World Music Choir

This workshop is ideal for large groups, suitable for both experienced singers and beginners. Drawing on international vocal repertoire, from traditional African sources to modern jazz gospel choir, Daniel teaches four-part vocal harmonies and ensemble singing. This very unique experience never fails to astound the participants, and it has become one of the Hillbillies' most requested workshops.

Body Polyrhythms

This is a rhythm workshop for non-musicians (and musicians). Daniel and Paul teach basic rhythm concepts using an assortment of hand claps, body slaps, footsteps, and percussive paraphernalia. The workshop includes clapping games, kejak (Balinese monkey chant), pygmy songs, and much more.

Band Workshops

Dance Band

The Hillbillies work together, or in any combination, to coach beginning through advanced dance bands. The musical focus (Southern, Northern, Irish, etc.) depends entirely on the participants. The workshop focus is on achieving a balanced and unified band sound, rather than on learning a lot of new tunes. Topics of discussion and exercise include tune transitions, musical dynamics, keeping solid rhythm, controlling tempo changes, and how to work closely with dance callers.

World Beat Band

Paul and Daniel work with instrumentalists (all instruments and ability levels welcome!) to build polyrhythmic Afro-Pop music from simple, repetitive parts. Interlocking patterns are composed from bass and lead melodic lines, with chordal and percussive parts filling in the structure. Besides having a lot of fun, participants learn to focus on playing in a rhythmic groove, holding their own parts together while listening to the whole.

Instrument Tutorials

Fiddle

Kevin and Ray tutor fiddle students of all ability levels. Their styles span Appalachian, Quebecois, Cape Breton, and Irish music.

Guitar

Paul teaches guitar styles for accompanying Northern and Southern fiddlers and for playing in dance bands. Ray teaches guitar backup for songs of all kinds.

Twin Fiddle Styles

Kevin and Ray work together to explore the joys and perils of twin fiddling. They discuss unison bowing and demonstrate several backup techniques, including harmonies, drones, and rhythmic bowing, with the overall goal of finding ways to adapt your fiddle style to that of another player.

Mandolin

Paul teaches both melody and backup mandolin styles, at all ability levels.

Flute

Daniel works with intermediate and advanced flute players on Quebecois, Irish, and Old-Time fiddle tune styling. He also teaches many exciting and challenging tunes from the flute traditions of South America. He primarily performs on the silver flute, but teaches both silver and wooden flute technique.

Piano

Daniel teaches piano backup technique for all levels of experience. Advanced students are generally taught 'master class' style, with emphasis on playing by ear, chord substitutions, bass lines, voice leading, and polyrhythmic left and right hand interactions.

Special Topics

Fiddle Tune Backup

How do you find chords to a tune you've never heard before? How do you back up jigs on a guitar? What can the fiddler play when there's a mandolin lead? What do you play when the tune only has one chord? What ARE those weird chords anyway?! The Hillbillies explore these and other questions in a workshop that covers backup styles on guitar, piano, mandolin, and fiddle.

Repertoire Session

The Hillbillies play through a load of our favorite square, contra, and couple dance tunes from all over the world. Bring your tape recorder!

Storytelling

Kevin is a captivating storyteller. His stories include traditional Irish fables and West Virginia Jack tales, and mesmerize both children and adults.

Original Tune Swap

Fiddle music is a living tradition, and some of the best dance music has been composed in the past ten years. Our repertoire includes a number of original compositions, and we love to hear and learn new ones. Bring a tape recorder and your own tunes!

Singing

Ray leads folk, country, and rockabilly singing workshops. Some of his special topics include Radio Barn Dance 1950--Songs from a Golden Age in Country Music and Songs of Woodie Guthrie.

Music Theory

Daniel packs the fundamentals of music theory into one or several one-hour sessions. The workshop tries to build an understanding of how to find new and interesting chord progressions, and how to remember and communicate them once you've found them.



Home